Saturday, July 31, 2010


For 45 days, I will be running on the roads of Vidarbha in the month of November – December covering all the 11 districts and near about 200 villages / small towns & main cities of the region to spread awareness and raise funds to support suicide farmers’ families. The months from mid-November to December, the region witness the harvesting season and maximum farmers’ suicide are witnessed.

200 Villages, small towns & cities will be touched & covered during the 45 days run through the 11 districts of Vidarbha

1). To raise funds for Vidarbha farmers’ widows and their children

2). Generate awareness about the ill-effects of suicide

3). Spread awareness about the use of paper envelopes made by farmers’ widows to save the environment

4). Spread awarenesss about the benefits of organic farming

5). Cultivate grassroot culture among the school children to protect environment

6). Trees plantation drive

7). Teach farmers to construct bhaands around their fields to increase ground water table

8). Request people to contribute old magazines for paper envelopes making unit

9). Request more farmers’ widows to join the small unit of paper making envelopes for “Vidarbha Widows Earn-to-save Environment”

Through this post, I would like to request one and all to come forward and donate generously in whatever ways one may or can to support this event… I know it is very challenging indeed to be on the roads for 45 days but my determination and devotion to do more for the farmers’ widows in Vidarbha is what is keeping me going to make this movement bigger so that in near future there are lesser farmers’ suicide in Vidarbha.

Farmers work zealously to feed the nation and the least we all can do is to help them continue farming and not quit farming to migrate to cities, while the government sits carelessly to claim proudly that the nation has the audacity to allow wastage of 58,000 crores worth of food grains every single year when near about 40% of children are dying in the nation because of mal-nourishment… I really wonder as to why these children or the poor, who have no access to food are not fed with all these food grains… not only the wastage will provide life to the poor and hunger but also strengthen the nation…

Tomorrow the month of our Independence will commence and I am indeed amazed that since the last 63 years the government of India has not even bothered to build enough FCI Godowns to store the total produce of the farmers of the nation safely, who toil hard in hot sun and heavy rains to feed the nation… indeed this is the biggest shame and the most serious issue that our government needs to tackle in war-footing… because only day before yesterday I read in the papers that our Supreme Court has finally woken up from its 63 years’ sleep to state – “Wasting even a single grain of food is a crime!”… so I wish to ask will the Supreme Court prosecute all the Prime Ministers of the Nation since our Independence in 1947? Will justice prevail or just melt like ice and vanish in vapours…

Obviously, it is the later which will happen as always to vanish in just vapours and next year the wastage of food grains in the country will raise to more than 60,000 crores and the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister will once again go to sleep for another 60 odd years… Imagine 80% of the yearly produced food grains are still stored in open air to rot and we the nation proclaim to the world that ours is the fastest growing economy… Is this really the growth of our nation? I leave it to one and all to think about…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INSPIRING ANGEL (28th July 2010, 1455 Hrs)

As I had written earlier that angels are visibly invisible for all of us, and only, when they enter your life, you will be able to see them and feel their presence. They come from nowhere to provide help, support to make you feel blessed. A beautiful angel came to lend her helping hands through Facebook… and she is a management student. What really amazed and made me feel happy about her is that she is young and feel so much for the serious national issue that she has come forward with a promise to do something concrete as soon as she will start earning.

The effort to reach out for others is the ultimate blissful emotion any human can really have. I am sure each one of you reading this post will agree with me because each one of us have felt such a blissful state in our lives many a times… the inspiring angel has enliven the state within me and I know she will do a lot when the time comes to support the cause.

Prerana Sharma hails from Greater Noida and is pursuing MBA in International Business from Birla Institute of Management Technology. She joined the Events in Facebook to show her support like many others and over a period of time took active part to encourage me through her comments. Each time she used to tell me that if there is anything I need, she would be there… this assurance surely was very valuable and encouraging for me to get strength to do what I am doing. Once we were chatting and Prerana said, ‘I really wish that my studies finish fast so that I can support the movement both financially as well as with her active part in helping the suicide farmers’ families.’ Wow! I felt a strange indebtedness towards this beautiful young girl for her commitment even when she is just a student. I know for sure that Prerana will do many things in her life to achieve greater heights and will spread joy with her radiance in many-many lives. 

Oh yes, Prerana was inspired when I recently shifted from Mumbai with bags and baggage. She wrote, ‘By shifting to Vidarbha you have shown your single minded determination and I am really happy for the decision.’ What is more noteworthy about her is that she is spreading the word fast about the movement among her friends’ circle and even asking them to support the cause. Honestly, I have no words to thank her for all the things that she has been doing to support the widows of Vidarbha.

There is a misconception among the elders that the younger generation are not aware about the national scenario forget about world. However, I will beg to differ here because it is the younger generation who have come forward to support the movement and yes, they are well aware about the current situation of the nation and the world. For many of them, with whom I interact… I have seen their zeal to do something better for the nation in various fields… now this is something really beautiful as the younger lot will nurture a better future for not only their kids and families but also the nation. In my quest, I am truly blessed with all the inspiring angels, who have joined hands to help the suicide farmers’ families in Vidarbha…

Before I die… Vidarbha should become ‘suicide free’ and become famous for its cotton. I know all these angels will never let this movement die even after my death to one day see ‘Suicide Free Vidarbha’ in near future!

Monday, July 26, 2010


I must specially mention the name of actor Shreyas Talpade for his undying support to support the suicide farmers’ families in Vidarbha with much gratitude for his effort and assurance to do more. I have known him since his IQBAAL days. I have enjoyed interviewing him for his humaneness rather than being a star from Bollywood. And from that instance, we have often bumped in various parties and inspite of his growing stature in Bollywood as an actor of true substance, he always remained a person with great humility.
I left a message on his cell requesting him to contribute with old magazines for our small unit. The next day, Shreyas called and was amazed to know more about my devotion. He promised me that soon he would send me the magazines and said that I should feel free to ask more of his help for the movement. Truly, I was moved by his gestures because many from Bollywood have not yet come forward like he did. No hard feelings though as there have been very few actors, who have come forward to support the cause in their own special ways. Jaya Bhattacharya, Nausheen Sardar Ali, a well-known director (prefers to remain anonymous though) have all been very supporting with their invaluable support to see this movement growing from strength to strength.

Shreyas and I had been talking over phone since the first message and one fine day, I received a huge packet with old magazines from him. When I called to thank him he revealed that since he didn’t had many old magazines, he asked his man Friday to collect from three raddiwalas all the magazines to send to me. He has even spread the message to all his friends in Bollywood to collect old magazines for the cause. His assurance that if the movement requires anything, he should be informed made me feel very proud of his commitment. I know for sure Shreyas is the man, who will not go back on his words and his support will always be cherished with much gratitude. I wish to thank him through this post for all his help… thank you Shreyas, thank you so very much!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

KHURJHADI EXPERIENCE – PART II (25th July 2010, 1130 Hrs)

I really had no option whatsoever but to stay for the night at the village. There was another house that I visited with Prashin. Darkness had engulfed the whole village, first because of the dark clouds and secondly there was no electricity supply. Khurjhadi is accustomed to live life without 12 to 16 hours of power cut daily… I wondered if we are really living in the 21st Century India… Mr. Manmohan Singh are you listening please?

The rain was still pouring and in the dark evening Ujwala’s son led me to late farmer Kawadu Anandrao Petkar’s house. I met widow Usha now in her 40s, who has been leading a painful life since 2006. 45 years old Anandrao Petkar committed suicide on the 21st of February 2006 because of debt, which had risen to 1.60 lakhs. The four children – Surendra (eldest is soon to be married) was earlier working in Pune but after his father’s death has taken over the reign of farming; Nanda (next in line), daughter has been married; Kunda is pursuing Nursing Training in Pune and the youngest son Mayur is a class Xth student. The Petkars have 4.75 acres of land and they grow cotton, soyabean and dal…

Widow Usha with son Mayur

Anandrao’s father and mother are old in their 70s. The compensation money of 1 lakh given by government was spent in paying electricty dues and daughter’s marriage. I managed to convince Usha to join our small unit and eldest son was happy to know about our project, something that will bring in extra money in the house. They all assured that they would work hard to be part of the unit with great enthusiasm. After a while we returned to Prashin’s house.

Father of (late) Kawadu Anandrao Petkar
My dress was still wet and immediately mother and son made a nice bed for me and requested me to rest. While we were interacting, I was touched by their reply when I said – ‘Me tumala tras dilo na (I gave you trouble),’ to which Ujwala replied – ‘For us you left Mumbai and in such heavy rains pedalled all the way from such a far distance… this is the least we can do for you.’ Emotions overflowed within me to hear such sweet soothing words and I wonder why we city dwellers cannot be like the villagers… Ujwala got busy preparing food and I wondered who give these widows so much strength to work all day in fields and yet when they are back home, they have the energy to do the household chores… if men have a misconception of being superior, they should really compete with these women… then they will know how superior women are in reality!
After 30 minutes, dinner was served hot… bhaakari (rotis made with rice flour), dal, thecha (chutney made by chillies & garlic with oil), onions and cut pieces of raw mango… my-my… I just canot describe the joy of having such a wonderful dinner in words… it is an experience that I shall cherish all my life… the love with which it was served… I ate more than I usually eat :)
By 9 pm I tucked myself in the new quilt (I guess that was made for me only, waiting for my arrival) and in wet clothes went to sleep. For a while I was looking in the darkness hearing the sound of the cricket wondering – who am I for them that they have so much trust, love and extended me such loving hospitality? Even before I was reaching to any answers, I was fast asleep. I slept like a baby and it was only in the morning with the cockaduldoo at 4.30 am, I woke up fresh with no sign of tiredness. The most wonderful part of the night was that there were no mosquitoes to disturb and the doors of the house were kept open without any fear.

The early morning ride back to Wardha was a beautiful and fast one… rain had stopped and I felt a joy within and know widows Ujwala, Usha and their children will surely work hard to set up the unit of envelop making once the monsoon is over.

Friday, July 23, 2010

RIDE TO KHURJHADI – FORT (23rd July 2010, 1950 Hrs)

On June the 17th, I pedalled my way to Khurjhadi (Fort), a village 27 kms away from Wardha in heavy rains. It was indeed the ride of a life time, however, I do feel there will be many more exhilarating experiences coming my way in future. Since I had decided to visit the village come what may, the drizzle didn’t stop me, little knowing it will take shape of heavy showers all my way.
No sooner I had left Wardha, the drizzle became heavy and I had to take shelter at a tyre repairing shop. I thought, I should have taken the bus instead of pedalling my way in such rain. However, deep down I was enjoying the rain. At the shop I met a lady, an LIC agent, who was very surprised with my cycle trip. We exchanged few minutes interacting about farmers’ suicide and government policies. She gave me direction to the village and said with a worried look – ‘The village is very far and it is raining heavily. Go safe.’ I thanked her and as rain stopped for a while, we both left for our respective destinations.
I presumed God was testing me and no sooner I left from the shop, the rain started once again and didn’t stopped till about 15 kms… I kept riding enjoying the rain and open expanse of fields on both side of the road. There was no sign of any villages as vehicles were passing by to and fro in high speed on the road. I was wet completely inspite of my windcheater. For the second time after covering 16 or 17 kms I thought I should come another day in bus… but I nixed the thought and said I have not started something to give away in the half way… yes, I was determined to reach to my destination come what may and I told my Sai Baba – Baba give me strength to reach my destination.
After 18 kms, the rain started once again and this time it was heavy. Once again my clothes, which became dry for a while got wet in one go… I was smiling to myself and wondering what the hell, I am enjoying the rain man! People in cars, trucks and two-wheelers were looking at me in amazement. The village was near about 3 kms away from the main road and the rain was so heavy that visibility was mere 5 to 6 metres… thirsty I opened my mouth towards sky to drink drops of rain and enjoying my struggle. It was dark and the thunderous blasts of clouds with lightening striking the open fields shook me once with a fear – what if it strikes me? I prayed to Baba and said – ‘Baba let my work complete here and then you may take me away forever.’ He listened and protected me to make me reach Khurjhadi.
One village man guided me to widow Ujwala Prabhakar Petkar’s house. Her son Prashin welcomed me and immediately served me with a glass of water and warm tea. His mother came in a little later and thought I was sent by Swami Vivekanand Trust. When I introduced myself and told them about my mission, they were very supportive. She updated me with what her husband Shri (late) Prabhakar Vasudev Petkar had to go through at the young age of 32 years to give away his life. The Petkars had nine acres of land but in the year 2001 – 02 flood took a toll on the whole village. There was no yield and rupees 20,000 loan rose to 1.5 to 2 lakhs and their four acres were grabbed by moneylenders for the small amount. Left with just five acres, Prabhakar committed suicide on the 8th October 2002.

Prashin with mother Ujwala

Life was tough for Ujwala to look after two young children, Prashin was just 6 years and Rushali was 9 years. I find women to be stronger than men in such circumstances to fight against all odds with bravado and Ujwala did just the same. She worked hard to send her children to school and today, her daughter is doing nursing training in Nagpur with the help of Swami Vivekanand Trust and Prashin is a class ninth student. She grows cotton, tur dal and soyabean in her five acres and have been fighting her war of loneliness with gusto.

It was getting dark and the rain was not showing any sign of stopping. The village’s entrance is a low lying area and the gushing high speed current water had blocked the way from both the sides. Neither anyone could enter or leave the village because of the high speed current. Ujwala told me to stay over at night and leave in the morning as it was dangerous to cross to the other side….

What happens next?... Read in my next post tomorrow…

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DESTINY RULES… (22ND July 2010, 1220 Hrs)

Humans are born with pre-destined destinies and I superscribe to the fact, to many it is the belief that they can shape their own destinies. Each to his own, no offence to others who believe so.

19th June when I left for Mumbai, I had planned to be back within a week’s time. However, just two days before leaving, I got viral fever and had to cancel my trip. I had planned to leave Mumbai forever in the month of September as per plan but suddenly after my sickness and recovering I decided it would be better if I leave Mumbai in July itself and much to my friends’ persuasion, I finally left on the 20th once for all. Once I landed in Wardha with bags and baggage, I was so much at peace. Now I know this is where my destiny wanted me to be for the rest of the life.

In my wildest dream I had never thought I would take such a step before March 2010. People flock to Mumbai in search of jobs and here I am, left the dream city to find my calling. Since the last month, I have not been able to blog because windows 7 collapsed and the day I reached Wardha, Sagar repaired it immediately. Life in Mumbai had been very busy trying to arrange for old magazines for our small unit. Many people promised me that they would send some but there was only one person (a celebrity), who was kind enough and took the zealous effort to send 19 kgs of old magazines. And what makes this individual special and worth mentioning is that s/he didn’t even wrote her / his name in the sender’s address. It stated only Annapurna Building, Yari Road, Versova, Andheri… through this post, if at all s/he is reading, I wish to thank her / him from the bottom of my heart for the valuable contribution.

Three Management girl students from Jankidevi Bajaj Institute of Management, SNDT campus Juhu collected 30 old magazines from their seniors room to give me a call to collect it. Actor Shreyas Talpade, who I have known since his IQBAAL days, was so sweet to send me a little more than 10 kgs of old magazines. Shreyas has been very considerate and he took the effort to send his man Friday to collect old magazines from the raddiwalas in his area to realise how important it is to support such a cause. He is been very kind to even assure all his help whenever needed. Tejal Rajyagor, my ninth angel too chipped in with whatever magazines she could carry during our meeting in Mumbai. It is the effort that counts and honestly, I knew such a problem may occur, so I went to Mumbai. I managed to collect more than 100 old magazines lying in my flat. So for a start, we have managed to collect enough magazines to start with.

The paper envelop making unit will have to wait till the monsoon season is over because the dampness in the atmosphere will not allow the glue to stick well. Packing old magazines and carrying it to station to book from parcel office took a great physical labour but I was enjoying every bit of it for reasons really unknown to me. Even though I felt tired with hectic times, the joy that I managed to gather so many old magazines in such a short time is unparallel indeed!

Everything fell in places at the right moment as it has been destined… I was just doing what I was supposed to do. In India, there is an old saying – Daane daane pe likha hai khaane wale ka naam (In each morsel of food, the name is written of the person who will eat it) – From glitzy Bollywood Parties in Five-stars… here I am enjoying food in villagers’ houses in Vidarbha… destiny rules!